How to Cut Metal Roofing

Metal Roofing Nashville

Putting a new metal roof on your home is a big task and requires an understanding of cutting metal safely and properly. You only have one chance to cut a piece of metal, and multiple mistakes can lead to spending additional money.

Before you cut any metal roofing, it’s imperative that you take the necessary safety precautions. Metal is sharp and will slice right through your hand and damage your eyes. You should invest in a good pair of goggles and gloves.

Here are a few tools that will help you to cut metal roofing

Tin snips or shears

Shears are designed to cut metal by hand. They will look a lot like scissors, and you used them much the same way. They come in a variety of sizes that are measured by gauge. You’ll need to choose the right gauge for the metal you are working with 29-gauge or 26-gauge metal.

Select yellow handles or plain snips to cut straight lines, left-handed snips with red handles for cutting counterclockwise, removing metal to your left, and right-handed snips with green handles for cutting clockwise and removing metal to your right.

When trying to cut metal that doesn’t start from the edge, you’ll need to drill a pilot hole for a starting point. You can use an electric drill and ½ inch bit to make the whole in the center of where you want to cut. Then you’ll begin trimming toward the guideline you drew.

You do not have to use a pilot hole if you’re cutting from the end and going across the sheet; only do this if you need to cut in the center of the sheet.

When using the shears/snips, you’ll squeeze the handles to cut the metal; it’s just like using scissors. You’ll repeat this until the metal is cut. It’s important that the cuts are smooth and steady to avoid leaving jagged edges.

Another option would be an attachment for your cordless drill, called power shears. This allows you to work faster and make better quality cuts. You’ll find that the contour or ribs can make cuts much harder, and poor cuts can lead to improper sealing. They work just like shear, except you press a trigger instead of opening and closing the shears.

Circular Saw

Using a circular saw is the best choice when sizing multiple sheets because you can cut multiple pieces at one time. It will be loud and can be dangerous. You must secure the metal sheeting before cutting it, or it will move and cause an injury. An alternative to a circular saw is the handheld angle grinder, but this requires good hand control.  

Here are some things you’ll need to be aware of when using this tool,

  • The blades will wear quickly. So you’ll need to have extra blades on hand, which can be costly depending on how much metal you’ll be cutting.
  • The blade on the saw will get hot enough to burn you as well as cause metal fragments to fly. Wearing proper safety gear is extremely important.

The blade you choose will need to cut through metal, so be sure that you select a 7 inch (18cm) steel-tooth blade or carbide-tooth blade. Carbide blades are more expensive but will last longer than steel-tooth. Make sure you are checking the label before buying a blade. You want to make sure it’s the right choice for your project and says that it will cut sheet metal or metal roofing.

Now in order to cut the metal, you’ll need to line the blade up with the marks you made for a cut by setting the saw to the edge. Take your time as you’ll need to keep a steady hand to stay on the guideline. A slow and steady pace with a gentle amount of pressure as you push it forward will allow you to stay in control and stay on the line. You only have one chance to cut this.

You should never force the saw forward if it stops working, don’t force it forward. You should turn it off then start cutting from the other side to meet where you stopped. 

In order to make rounded cuts, you’ll need an electric drill nibbler. You can get an attachment for your electric drill or buy the tool itself.  This is basically like using a saw but for specialty cuts. To use it, you’ll start at the edge and push forward along the lines until the cut is complete. It’s great for cutting holes for vent pipes. However, you wouldn’t use this tool for a straight line.

Tips for Cutting Metal Safely

Safety should be your number one goal. Working with metal can cause many injuries. When you are cutting or grinding metal, there will be tiny shards of metal flying everywhere; they will be hot and sharp. In order to avoid eye injuries, cuts, burns, and follow these rules:

  • Make sure to read and follow the safety precautions of the metal-cutting discs and blades. You can find them printed on the blade itself or packaging.
  • Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. If you’re using a circular, saw you should wear a face shield.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to cover all exposed skin.
  • Wait until the metal cools before touching it. 
  • Always wear gloves when handling metal. It will have sharp edges that will cut you, and the heat can burn you.
  • Clamp the metal sheet securely before cutting it.
  • Before cutting, clear the area of anyone that may be close by. If you have a helper, make sure you know where he/she is before cutting.

Jonathon Myers Roofing is a Nashville roofing company that has been installing metal roofing throughout the area for many years. We understand how important your roof is to the value of your home and it’s protection. Unqualified and improper installation can lead you to future problems that will prove to be costly.  

Our skilled roofing team is ready to give you a free roof estimate. Just give us a call today to get started, and we’ll walk you through the entire process – stress-free and worry-free.